Life Support Renewed as Dodge Plans a Track-Focused, ACR-Badged Challenger
Is Dodge taking it to the race track with this potential Challenger ACR?by Tudor Rus, on LISTEN 05:15
It first ruled the drag strip, and now it might be time to rule the race circuit. Or at least aim to rule it, provided the recent reports are true. Indeed, we’re talking about the Dodge Challenger, a not-that-new-anymore car that’s been abiding by the Frank Sinatra “I did it my way” credo, which is rumored to receive the ACR badge once wore by the mighty yet now-defunct Dodge Viper.
The news of a track-oriented Challenger are of the exciting ilk, there’s no doubt about it, but we’re not taking them without a pinch of salt. Stick with us as we explore the topic.
The third-generation Dodge Challenger has been around since 2008. In all honesty, Dodge made sure to keep it fresh with yearly updates here and there, but there’s no hiding from the fact that its an aging model.
That, however, is not of the essence here. Throughout its career, the Challenger spawned the now-discontinued SRT Demon, its most extreme, drag strip-spec iteration, as well as the SRT Hellcat and SRT Hellcat Redeye - the latter is now the most hardcore Challenger you can buy, with the Demon out of the scene as of May 2018.
What’s the deal with this new Dodge Challenger ACR rumor?
According to Mopar Insiders, Dodge has not only postponed the launch of a new-generation Challenger by two years to 2023, but it is silently working on an ACR-badged Challenger as well. The outlet cites unnamed “close sources” which claim Dodge is gearing up a special model to celebrate the Challenger’s 50th anniversary next year. And that special model is of the race-oriented variety fitted with all the aerodynamic bells and whistles from the factory.
Maximum downforce will be the focal point here, and Mopar Insiders suggests that a lot of know-how and technology will come from the tried and tested fifth-generation Dodge Viper ACR, including the ACR moniker and the badging that will entail the creation of such a limited-run model.
Now, most of you must remember the 2011 Dodge Challenger ACR Concept, which was, in fact, a joint project developed by Mopar and Dodge based on a Challenger SRT8. Those who can recall it also know that the prototype benefited from the extensive use of lightweight materials (carbon fiber included), but lacked the audaciousness of the Viper ACR and its crazy aero package made of wings, winglets, dive planes, and mean-looking bumpers/diffusers.
What will sit under the hood?
That’s the big mystery right now. A Hellcat engine looks like a proper choice, but if we learned something from Dodge’s ACR-badged cars, is that low weight and extreme aerodynamics are usually placed on top of the list, above extra engine power or torque.
However, a potential future Dodge Challenger ACR would be best served by a Hellcat engine which might be left as it is or boosted further to 800+ horsepower.
We came up with this figure because Wesley Motorsports, a racing team that’s currently backed by FCA’s Dodge and Mopar, uses a widebody 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat, whose 6.2-liter V-8 makes 850+ horsepower sent through the factory ZF 8HP90 eight-speed transmission.
What’s more, the race-prepped Challenger has Viper ACR Brembo front brake calipers and a Viper ACR Extreme rear wing and front splitter, which is exactly what Mopar Insiders claims the Challenger ACR will get. Sure, Dodge is yet to comment, and our guess is that the carmaker won’t do it that soon and instead opt for a teaser of sorts, provided the Challenger ACR is indeed on the cards.
What does ACR mean in the first place?
ACR stands for American Club Racer. It’s a name that Dodge coined to mark particular performance-oriented models that are fitted from the factory with packages that boost specific areas of the car. The 1999 Viper GTS was the first car to receive the ACR treatment, which at that time, added lightweight components that helped cut 50 pounds (23 kilos) off the car’s hips. A stiffer suspension setup was also used, as well as 20-spoke BBS wheels. The Viper’s V-10 engine got a power bump to 460 horsepower and 500 pound-feet of torque.
Dodge continued to offer ACR-badged Vipers that culminated with the 2016 Viper ACR, also known as phase VX I. The car received a wholly new aerodynamic body kit made of carbon fiber and a huge fixed rear wing (that’s also carbon fiber) which produced up to 1,500 pounds of downforce at corners between them. The V-10 was tweaked to crank out 645 horsepower and 600 pound-feet of torque. An Extreme Aero Package was also offered, which took downforce to 2,000 pounds at corners, while the Viper ACR’s top speed dropped to 177 miles per hour from 191 miles per hour.
Now, as you read those numbers, it’s pretty easy to realize why a potential Dodge Challenger ACR is such a jump-for-joy-worthy car, right?
Image credits: Bartosz Peksa, Behance
Read our full review on the 2019 Dodge Challenger.
Read our full review on the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon.
Read our full review on the 2018 Dodge Challenger.
Read our full review on the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat.
Read our full review on the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Wide-Body.
Read our full review on the 2016 Dodge Viper ACR.
Source: Mopar Insiders